It is reassuring to see that Reedies will take care of one another even after they graduate
Paul Messick ‘15 got in touch a while back. Paul won the award for Most Switchboard Members Contacted last year. We love hearing from Paul. And he was freaking out about Tony Fisher’s ‘80 Charm School. “I went to it last year and was absolutely blown away. The entire presentation was bursting with real world advice about how to thrive professionally,” Paul wrote. An endorsement if we’ve ever heard one.
Tony talks about being an effective public speaker, asking more powerful questions, dealing with rejection, table manners, and leveraging alumni. As Tony says, these are skills he wishes someone had taught him at Reed or in grad school. Here’s Tony’s Switchboard Hearts page.
You can learn more about the 9/29 event sponsored by Career Services over here. You need to RSVP by today, 9/26.
Let me say this: when I was a student I never would have attended Tony’s talk. “Pshaw, why do I need to know any of that?” But it turns out this is one of the only times an adult comes to Reed and talks to you about how to be in the world and gives you advice on interacting with other people. Other people who do not live in the library, scrounge, and stay up all night reading Lorca. Other people that will greet you when you toss that tasseled hat and walk off campus. It also turns out that you can learn these lessons now, at Reed, risk free, from a generous alumnus. Or learn them over years, by trial an error, later, at your first job, depressed and overwhelmed, from cynical strangers or ornery office mates. That is our humble pitch.
Someone go and tell us what you learned and what you thought.
XO + Love Reed
The Switchboard tries to support every Kickstarter project by Reed College alumni. We’ve received so many fantastic thank you goodies and wanted to post a little round up of them here.
From top to bottom:
A photo from "Shock and Awe" by Ethan Rafal ‘07(122% funded)
"True Believer," a comic by Lucy Bellwood ‘12 (777% funded)
"Lines on the Map," a zine about bicycles by Elly Blue ‘06 (105% funded)
A screenshot from Rubicon, Josephy Perry’s ‘13 (aka Wick) hand-drawn computer game (260% funded)
Most importantly: if you are an alum launching a Kickstarter campaign please tell us so we can support it and spread the word.
Canyon Day was supposed to be a day set aside to work together to beautify the canyon, but by the time I got to Reed it was mostly about waterfights. Traditionally the residents of Quincy would move all their furniture away from the windows and into the halls and challenge the rest of the Reed community to “aquatic combat,” which meant they would come under siege. A few days before Canyon Day the residents of Quincy weighted down the trap doors leading from the other dormitories to the attic to prevent an attack from above. They also used to spray attackers with the fire hoses. I recall that some of the besiegers used slingshots made of surgical tubing to fire hard-boiled eggs with a firecracker in the middle, the fuse of which was lighted before launch. A fellow in Quincy slammed the window shut on one such missile, which exploded harmlessly outside, then opened the window to taunt those below just as another egg sailed in. Ultimately a window was breached and the front door unlocked from within, then a rush was made on the door. A strapping young man from Quincy wedged his feet against the stone steps and braced his back against the door to prevent it from being opened. He was so strong and the attackers so determined that eventually the wooden door split and cracked. I believe at that time a truce was called because all realized they were getting carried away.
There was also a tug-of-war, with the losing team obliged to hang onto the rope and be dragged through the pond mud of the Canyon.
A story that took place in 1964 as remembered by John Cushing ‘67 which can be found at the Reed Oral Histories Project .
We really should have played Hide n’ Seek or something in the Canyon.
You guys! Today was convocation! Do you remember waiting your entire life for that moment when your parents dropped you off at college? When you simultaneously felt free and wanted to throw up? That happened for hundreds of Reedies today.
We did a little project to ease the throwing up part, and remind Freshmen that they are but the newest members of an awesome family. You know those Switchboard Hearts photos? Well we turned them into stickers and then stickered New Reed with the friendly faces + passions of Old Reed. Kieran ‘15 and Alex ‘14 also anointed new Reed president John Kroeger. The sticker he chose? BRAINS, appropriately. XOlovereed
Reed reunions can change your life. Ask us. We know. We graduated Reed together 26 years ago. We knew each other back then, but were at best casual friends (Laura even has a photo of the two of us and other classmates on the library steps just before the thesis parade). And now we are engaged and plan to marry in May. We’ll show up at Reed again this year for reunions (after all, Sheldon is the next president of the alumni association), but this time as a married couple.
We went our separate ways after Reed and did not stay in touch. Laura went to Kansas for a Ph.D. in psychology and a career as a professor of public health; Sheldon was off to Wisconsin for a Ph.D. in the history of science and a career as a corporate historian. We saw each other for the first time in two decades at our twentieth reunion. We became friends again, but nothing more. We did, however, stay in touch by phone. Close to five years later, with another reunion coming up, we decided to take a joint vacation just prior to reunions. Laura was driving across the country to Corvallis, helping a friend and her daughter move. Sheldon arranged to meet her in Portland at the end of her trip. We planned a tour of Oregon that would take us back to some old haunts (the coast, the Rogue River, the Shakespeare festival in Ashland) and some activities that hadn’t existed in the early ’70s (Willamette Valley wineries, the restored lodge at Crater Lake). It proved a truly magical vacation. By the time we arrived back in Portland for reunion, we were head over heels in love. Though we were somewhat in a daze, it was still the perfect frame of mind to be back at Reed reconnecting with old friends.
Reunions ‘98 ended with a social sponsored by the class of 1968, featuring a reunion of Laura and the Vipers, the late ’60s Reed rock band. So there we were, in the new Kaul Auditorium, dancing to music we might have danced to a quarter century earlier. Lost in ourselves and in the music, we were interrupted by a tap on the shoulder from one of our classmates. He said, “will you guys knock it off for just a minute? I’m trying to say good bye.” It was the perfect comment to end a magical week. We did knock it off for just that minute, but we have kept it up ever since.
A story that took place in 1998 as remembered by Sheldon ‘73 which can be found at the Reed Oral Histories Project .
Awww. This is like When Harry Met Sally but better because it’s without Billy Crystal.
(Ben, Sunny ‘02 and Peter ‘02)
None of you dear Reedies will ever have the chance to meet Ben Eder, who died at sea while taking a leave of absence from Reed in 2001. From his obituary: ”At the time of his death, on his nightstand was a biochemistry text, and A History of Knowledge. In his backpack, salvaged from the hull of the vessel, was a copy of Barron’s Islam and a recent issue of The Economist.”
Today I came across this list of his goals, and wanted to share it. I know all of you have such a list, and these lists bind you to a legacy of remarkable Reedies like Ben.
Some of Ben’s goals: from a handwritten list in his Eugene apartment
circa Fall 2001
Know my shit:
Science, specific fields, general
General, micro/macro stuff
International, government policy
Details of structure and manipulation
Read major books
Focus on eastern stuff
Spanish, no excuses — fluency
Portuguese, despues Espanol
Basics of Latin
Stuff I used to know
Skills for full American bad ass:
Run Nesika crabbing, more knots, navigation ,basic trawl stuff, sew net
Basic self defense
More outdoor stuff
Commercial driver’s license
Motorcycle driving license
Roll a good cigarette
Be a good waiter
Cook like a pro
[PS: Go visit Ben’s trees on campus by Bragdon]
Ross Thompson had been the CEO of Litton Industries before coming to Reed. A lot of people disliked him. He was a corporate executive, and not a good fit for the college. Jim Webb, who was finishing up his last year teaching English, had a billboard put up on McLoughlin Boulevard in Portland with a picture of Thompson, and text that asked, “Would you buy a used college from this man?
A story that took place in the 1970s as remembered by Mathew Kangas ‘71 which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
Omitted here is a photograph of the billboard—you can find it in the book.
The Reed website said students were responsible for the billboard, but I’d like to believe a professor did it. I recall a few of my professors expressing discontent with C.Divvy. Whether or not I agreed with them, I appreciated how much they cared about Reed; I appreciated that they valued Reed as much as/if not more than I did. In a sense, they’re the backbone of the college.
We got word that a group called the “Society for Creative Anachronism” was going to be bringing in the Doyle Owl via helicopter during a softball game at Renn Fayre. On the day the helicopter showed up, a whole group of us got in a Datsun pickup driven by Dave Conlin ‘88, and came blazing across the field where it had landed. Half of the guys jumped out of the pickup with fire extinguishers—the water-only kind—blasting everybody down, while the other half of the guys grabbed the Doyle Owl. We tossed it in the back of Dave’s pickup, and we all jumped in the truck and took off up the hill. We then proceeded to take the Owl all around Portland.
A story that took place in the 1980s as remembered by Brian Ruess ‘87 which can be found in the Comrades of the Quest.
That’s it: Olde Reed wins.
So now comes the part where we ask you for advice.
A lot of you have reached out and you’ve been wonderful. You’ve made our Switchboard dreams come true. You’ve asked for contacts, places to stay, advice, ideas, leads, suggestions. You’ve followed up. You’ve thanked the people who’ve helped you. You’ve been gracious and grateful, knowing that every bridge you burn with an alum is one fewer bridge available to another Reedie in need. Thank you for being awesome.
Thanking people for their generosity of time and spirit is, after all, what the Honor Principle looks like beyond Reed. It is very simple. It is very profound. It is what makes the Switchboard work. Without prompt replies, enthusiastic expressions of gratitude and an excessive use of exclamation points, everything falls to pieces. Alumni get grumpy and we have to suffer through emails about “kids these days.”
But there are also some of you who — for whatever reason — refuse to follow up. A list of Superhosts is emailed to you within minutes of your request, and you never reply to that email with a simple “Thanks!” An alumna meets with you and then sends a long list of professional contacts, names, email addresses, and you never thank her. A Superhost opens up his/her home and then never hears from you again about if/when you’re arriving. The excuse “I’m busy” just doesn’t fly, because we’re all busy. It’s cool. Things are hectic. It may take you a week to reply. But not replying is not an option. The Switchboard doesn’t have time to babysit and we’ve been pretty clear about the protocol.
[You may be all, “why so uptight, man?” And here’s why: if I put you in touch with someone in my professional network and you don’t follow up I look like an asshole. I look like someone who routinely endorses flakes. This reflects poorly on me and my work. That person starts thinking “maybe she’s actually a flake, too." You endanger me ever, like, working with or asking a favor of that person ever again.]
So here’s what we’re considering: there will be a gentle but public announcement for falling asleep on the job like this. Unless you guys have a better idea, it will come in the form of an online list of dishonor/”time for you to pony up the gratitude, friend.” And names will stay on that list until we receive proof that all is well, bridges are mended, people feel appreciated.
Does this sound draconian? Perhaps. But did you know that at other schools the lack of follow up can mean being blacklisted from using the alumni network forever? Mosey on over to Brandeis’ Hiatt Career Center Integrity Contract.
[Climbing off of soapbox still with a heart full of love.]
Do you have a better idea for holding Reedies accountable?
(using Simplified Spelling): This is my greeting to you for the New Year: may it be the best year of your life so far! And if you hold the same wish for me, let us be really “Comrades of the Quest.” How much that may mean in fellowship and idealism, I have tried to tell you from time to time.
In the first place, our Quest must be for higher things. The dramatic opportunity of beginning a new year calls us to burnish our old ideals, and add new ones with a faith that will make them potent. Tho we may not hitch our wagon to a star, we must look high—we must venture upon the glowing promis of the new year with aims that are adequate challenges to the strength of our youth. And in all good things we must work together. That is our second necessity: that is a part of comradship. I must be of greater help to you; you must be of greater help to me; and together we will make a college that commands our loyalty unto the end. For loyalty is at once the price and the reward of our highest life together; that, too, is part of comradship.
A story that took place in December 31, 1912 as written by William Foster, “letter to Lindsley Ross ‘15”, which can be found in Comrades of the Quest.
Margaret McGowan Mahan ‘24: They stopped using Simplified Spelling the year I started, thank goodness. Try playing Scrabble with it sometime.
(Imagining if C. Divvy adopted l337.)